Welcome to Homegrown in the Heart, where we shine a spotlight on individuals deeply rooted in the heart of Washington. Our area is nestled between Canada, Oregon, and the Columbia River, and it’s home to many vibrant individuals. Today, I’m excited to introduce Ryan Griffee, one of LGP Law’s partners. While he’s not originally from Yakima, Ryan has wholeheartedly embraced Central Washington, moving his family here to establish a flourishing law practice that’s dedicated to serving our community.

We discuss:

  • From West to East | Ryan’s Journey to Yakima
  • Embracing Yakima as Home
    • 1. Perception v. Reality | Yakima’s Crime Rates
    • 2. Entrepreneurs & Business | People Come Back to Yakima
    • 3. Real Diversity | Opportunity for Growth & Relationships
    • 4. Simple & Accessible | Yakima is Straightforward
  • Ryan’s Scope of Practice | The Art of Dealmaking
  • The Birth of LGP Law | Focusing on Holistic Client Service
  • The Future of LGP Law | Where are We Going?

From West to East | Ryan’s Journey to Yakima

Ryan’s relationship with Yakima is a unique one. While people often transplant here from other places, many only intend to stay for a couple years before going back to bigger cities. This wasn’t the case with Ryan.

Beyond the Cascades | There’s Only Chicago, Right?

Ryan first moved to Yakima from Burien, a city near SeaTac Airport in the Seattle area. Growing up in Burien, he was used to the constant noise of airplanes due to his family’s proximity to the airport, especially with the construction of a third runway.

In the beginning, Ryan knew very little about Central Washington. He had taken brief trips to Pullman, Spokane, and even Montana, with a rare visit to Yakima for a cross-country meet in high school. But a person can get on I-90 and leave the state without ever stopping into Yakima. Ryan didn’t think there was much of anything past the Cascade mountains until Chicago.

After spending an extra year in undergrad and then completing his JD / MBA, Ryan faced the challenging job market of the Great Recession. During this time, he discovered an employment opportunity in Yakima.

Ryan was initially skeptical about what Yakima had to offer, questioning even the availability of basic amenities. His plan was to just gain a few years of experience in Yakima before moving back to a larger city, like many transplants. However, Ryan quickly grew to appreciate Yakima, developing strong community ties and witnessing significant changes.

Now – 12 years later – he’s absolutely committed to our community.

“I was like many transplants. I thought, “Well, I’ll go to Yakima, I’ll get my few years of experience and then I’ll probably move back to a larger city.” But it ended up being a huge revelation to me once I got here; I started to develop relationships and see the community change. I think there’s the question of, “Why did you come?” But to me, the more important question is, “Why haven’t you left?”

Ryan Griffee

Ryan’s Education | Studying Law & Business in Southern California

Ryan first received his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. After that, he pursued his education at Pepperdine University, where he attended both law and business school. During his time there, he lived in Marina Del Rey with his wife, Katie.

Despite the allure of the sunny Gold Coast, Santa Monica, and all that Los Angeles had to offer, Ryan faced significant challenges that influenced his decision not to stay. One major issue was the heavy traffic in LA, which meant Ryan spent hours commuting. He would drive Katie to her job at the Fox Lot in Century City, then continue to Malibu for his classes at Pepperdine, a routine that had him stuck in traffic for up to three hours a day.

The daily grind, coupled with the high cost of living and the aspiration of starting a family, made Ryan reconsider the feasibility of staying in LA. Despite the excitement of the city and an internship opportunity at the studio where Katie worked, the reality of living in LA — dealing with traffic, high living expenses, and working in windowless buildings — did not align with their long-term goals.

After graduating from Pepperdine, Ryan began to look elsewhere to start his law career, eventually leading him to Yakima.

The Beginning of Ryan’s Career at Stokes Lawrence Law Firm

The first firm Ryan practiced law at was Stokes Lawrence, under an excellent lawyer we both ended up developing a relationship with: Morrie Shore. Morrie was moving towards retirement, and one of his partners, Dustin Yaeger, was looking for someone to help take over mortgage practice.

Dustin was a younger attorney at the time with maybe six years under his belt, trying to take on the monster that is mortgage law, so Stokes Lawrence was looking for someone interested in transactional work.

They called Ryan because he’d had a great informational interview with another Stokes Lawrence partner in Seattle, Olivia Gonzalez. When Olivia heard that the Yakima office was looking for someone, she recommended Ryan.

Even before Ryan started law school, he knew his passion and focus was on “dealmaking” (i.e. contracts and other transactional law), not litigation. Working for Stokes Lawrence was an excellent opportunity for him.

Embracing Yakima as Home

For Ryan, the transition from LA to Yakima went smoother than he expected, partly because both places share a similar dry, sagebrush-dominated landscape. This familiarity helped alleviate the shock he might have experienced moving directly from Seattle’s more damp environment to our desert climate. Something Ryan really appreciates about Yakima is the distinct seasons, even though they may linger a little longer than desired. Each new season ushers in a different kind of relief and beauty.

1. Perception v. Reality | Yakima’s Crime Rates

Ryan has spent an incredible amount of time talking to people from Yakima about Yakima. One of the biggest challenges he sees our community struggling to move past is the perception around crime.

When Ryan first moved here, he went to a community meeting put on by law enforcement for new residents that talked about Yakima’s crime statistics. They explained that back in the 80’s and 90’s, criminal issues were highly publicized in order to get funding to try and help mitigate those problems. Unfortunately, the amount of publicity has caused a lasting perception around Yakima’s crime statistics and challenges – one that we hope to change.

2. Entrepreneurs & Business | People Come Back to Yakima

Ryan also highlighted the transformation he’s seen Yakima undergo, especially noting the growth in local entrepreneurship since his arrival.

“I’ve really been inspired to see so many young people return to this community from other places to start businesses. When I first moved here, places like Bale Breaker didn’t exist; there was one brewery, not a ton of restaurants, and there wasn’t the Orion downtown. But it’s been really neat to see the opportunity for entrepreneurship in Yakima. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed firsthand people going from being waiters to becoming business owners!”

ryan griffee

3. Real Diversity | Opportunity for Growth & Relationships

Living in Yakima also offers unique opportunities for involvement and leadership within the community, contrasting with what Ryan might have experienced in a bigger place like Seattle. With larger cities, a firm’s scope of practice tends be much narrower. Ryan’s experience in Yakima has allowed him to engage in a broader practice and partake in numerous volunteer efforts, enriching his career and personal growth overall.

I asked Ryan about how well he was received when he came to Yakima as an outsider, whether he’d had any difficulties forming relationships. He shared that cultivating relationships here has been a unique and positive experience for him. Not having preexisting notions about the people he meets or knowledge of their personal baggage has allowed him to approach relationships with fresh eyes. This perspective has benefitted both his personal and professional interactions.

4. Simple & Accessible | Yakima is Straightforward

The simplicity and accessibility in Yakima, even on a basic level of being able to walk into an office without having to navigate complex urban infrastructure, can help foster better relationships.

That said, there are some unique Yakima challenges, one of which is that our community seems to have a broader, cultural emphasis on straightforwardness and adding value:

“Professionally, there are high expectations, and in some ways, it’s can be even more challenging. For instance, there’s a strong demand for things to be written as short as possible. A 60, 70, 80-page contract doesn’t work here. Sometimes they’re necessary, but there’s a huge demand for simplicity here and, “If it doesn’t have to be that long, it better not be that long.”

ryan griffee

Ryan’s Scope of Practice | The Art of Dealmaking

Fundamentally, Ryan describes his practice as being about building long-term relationships with clients, regardless of their specific legal needs. He emphasizes that when clients reach out to him, whether for estate planning, buying or selling a house or business, or any other issue, he sees it as the beginning of an ongoing relationship, rather than a one-time transaction.

Ryan’s goal is for his clients to feel comfortable seeking his advice or assistance on any matter, knowing that even if it falls outside his field of expertise, he can guide someone in the right direction, often through referrals within his network.

His pillars of practice include:

  • Real estate
  • Estate planning
  • Business law
  • Probate

How Ryan’s Areas of Practice Serve Yakima

Ryan believes all of these areas of law interconnect, especially when dealing with intergenerational family businesses within our local community. It’s not just about the legal aspects but also things like tax implications, estate planning considerations, and the psychological dynamics that come with family goals and motivations.

Considering things holistically is what helps Ryan provide comprehensive legal support for Yakima. Many lawyers aren’t taught the importance of “soft skills” like relationship-building and client interaction. These are vital aspects of legal practice that aren’t typically taught in law school but are crucial for effective lawyering.

Working in a smaller community like ours has also allowed Ryan the opportunity to develop these skills earlier in his career than a typical big-city lawyer.

The Birth of LGP Law | Focusing on Holistic Client Service

Ryan joined forces with Paul Larson in 2015, after they previously collaborated on a transaction at Stokes Lawrence. Their practices aligned well, leading Ryan to consider the future direction of their firm, which included Paul’s partners – two exceptional trial lawyers named Jim Berg and Jim Perkins.

Becoming a Full Service Law Firm

Ryan and Paul debated whether to focus solely on transactional work, or to strive to be a full-service firm. They saw the value in offering comprehensive services to their clients, avoiding the need for them to seek external counsel for certain issues.

“We felt that that being a full-service firm was in our clients’ best interests. There were a few different ways that Paul and I could have gone, we could have gone and said, “Well, let’s just be a boutique shop and just focus on the transactional stuff” and tell our clients, “Sorry, if you’ve got another issue, you’re going to have to get outside counsel for these things.”

ryan griffee

Adding Litigation & Personal Injury to LGP Law

Then, we saw the potential of expanding our firm’s offerings to include a litigation department. Our approach is like having both preventive medicine and emergency care. This flexibility allowed us to explore new avenues, like my field: personal injury, which traditionally relies on one-off client relationships due to its nature.

I was intrigued by the opportunity to approach personal injury law from a more holistic and relational perspective. If a victim gets a settlement, many times they need help with other kinds of planning and answering questions like:

  • How do they want to manage those funds?
  • Do need they need to consider estate planning?
  • Do they need a probate if someone has passed away?

Ryan and Paul were considering how the firm could assist clients beyond just settling personal injury claims. Being able to address multiple client needs under one roof, along with offering more complete representation and continuity of care was exciting to all of us.

Having trial and transaction lawyers in the same firm is a very unique business model, and one that we’re thrilled to finally have great proof-of-concept for.

The Future of LGP Law | Where are We Going?

Overall, we want to change the world in how legal services are delivered by emphasizing a commitment to serving humanity and improving the legal profession. We’re continuing to expand our coalition of the willing. LGP is dedicated to assembling a team passionate about:

  • Service
  • Learning
  • Diversity of practice areas

Thankfully, we have ample room in our current building for this mission, and we’re exploring some innovative ways to utilize our space. We’ve expanded beyond our previous focus areas to offer a more comprehensive scope of practice – which now includes personal injury law – and we hope to keep growing into other areas like criminal or family law to further benefit our community.

I’m so grateful for Ryan Griffee joining me today, and to be on this journey with LGP Law! We’re on an ambitious path to redefine the delivery of legal services, focusing on our community, innovation, and holistic care. If you share a passion for making a meaningful impact and serving Yakima, contact us. We’re all about growing Central Washington and building relationships.

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